Everreach: Project Eden is a story driven action RPG. The game is set on the planet Eden, home of Earth’s next colony for the ultrarich. Trouble is afoot as a mysterious mutiny has broken out among the scientists, technicians, and construction crews building the settlement for the incoming colonists. Nora Harwood and her team has been sent to the planet to investigate and put an end to the mutiny.
Everreach: Project Eden aims to be an epic space drama but fails horribly. The dialogue is dry and feels forced at times. The characters are shallow and often painfully cliché. The story generally swings between dull and confusing. Major plot points do not always make sense and some just appear from nowhere. The ending is so abrupt, it almost felt like a car accident. It’s as if the writer originally had a story for a game three to four times larger than Everreach but was forced to aggressively hack away at the script to make it fit.
Everreach: Project Eden is a mess. The level design is awful. The game is extremely short to begin with, easily beaten in a few hours. A large chunk of the game consists of vehicle sections where players simply navigate around long maps until they run into a cluster of enemies or dodge incoming fire. These sections feel like they were hastily bolted into the game to artificially lengthen it. Another major level of the game is just walking simulator where players go from audio log to audio log. The entire thing could have easily been replaced with a cut scene. The game has plenty of obvious side paths with bonus loot, but they have no compelling puzzles that challenge the player in a positive way. Certain chests are locked with one of two puzzles. One challenges players to connect all the dots under 30 seconds, while the other requires player to dodge incoming objects for 30 seconds. Oddly enough, the dots challenge only gives players one try. The dodging challenge lets players try as many times as they want, if they can endure the frustrating randomness of the puzzle.
Combat is terrible. The gun play feels mushy and bland. Players only have access to a pistol and a rifle. The pistol is too inaccurate, too slow, too short ranged, and too weak to be useful. The crosshairs try to replicate a gun sight but are too large to be useful at range. The hit boxes and models are poor. Enemy hitboxes don’t always match the models. Weapons often clip through the objects, allowing players to safely shoot at enemy while hidden behind cover. The AI is stupid. Many times, the AI will stand in place and try to shoot it out instead of making any real attempt to get into cover to flank. Other times, the AI does not respond to gunfire, content to let the player empty a magazine into their back.
The controls are not great. Camera movement is simple and sometime unintuitive, especially when dealing with enemies lower than the player. Nova feels clumsy and often gets stuck on corners. The lack of a jump button makes navigation more frustrating than it needs to be.
The rare bright spot is the skill progression system. It’s a web of skills and buffs in the vein of Path of Exile and Final Fantasy’s orb level system. While players won’t fill the entire web, there is a lot of flexibility for players to decide if they want a spellcaster type experience, a straight shooter, or something in between.
The PC version is poor. The options are extremely limited. While the game was reasonably stable, it oftentimes felt like a cheap PC port. Key bindings can only be configured in the main menu, and certain keys are hard coded.
The visuals are a two-part problem. First, the small dev team may have tackled a bigger project than they could handle. The animations are rough. Characters in cutscenes are practically bobble heads with the exaggerated head movement but are contrasted with the stone-like facial animation.
The second part of the problem is purely bad stylistic choices. Cutscenes are hard to watch due to the aggressive use of camera cuts and an unnecessary shaky-cam style. The worst of the shaky-cam has been patched out, but the cutscenes still pretty disorienting. The artists have also overused visual effects like bloom. Careful use of visual tricks at the right time can accent a game, but Everreach: Project Eden really demonstrates how bad things look when artists hand out effects like candy on Halloween. The result is a mess that makes the player feel like the artists are trying to hide something worse underneath all that blur.
The audio experience is mediocre. The sound effects are dull. Gunfire lacks any and all impact, almost bordering on sounding like a toy gun from the local dollar store. The music is good but the track list is extremely limited, so players will hear the same handful of tracks in the two to four hours it takes to beat the game. Finally, the voice acting is rough. Most of the actors are weak, but the actor who plays Jay does a fantastic job. Unfortunately, the main character Nora is among the worst due to her awkward almost monotonous delivery.
Everreach: Project Eden is the type of game that may have looked good on paper, but the execution is painfully flawed. The story feels like it’s seen the cutting block too many times to count. The gameplay is dull. The visual style is poorly thought out, and the audio experience is lukewarm at best. It’s current state makes me wonder if Everreach was a victim of overambition or was simply a poorly thought out game to start. We may never know the answer, but at least you know enough to just avoid this game.
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